Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on.
In Philippians 3:12-16, Paul showed us how to maintain joy and win in the Christian life. First of all, you need a healthy discontent with your present situation. Think about this: every worthwhile achievement in life begins with a sense of discontent. You’re not happy with the way things are. That is also true of your spiritual life. If you’re going to succeed in your relationship with God, you refuse to be satisfied with where you are.
Now, the Bible says there are some things we ought to always be content with. We ought to be content with our circumstances. Paul said in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” We ought to be content when our basic needs are met. Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:8, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” But there is one thing you and I should never be content with, and that is our relationship with God. Regarding his own relationship with God, Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).
The false teachers in the Philippian church were saying, “We have arrived.” But Paul said, “Not me. I have not already obtained it. But I press on.” The Greek word used for “press on” refers to an athletic contest, most likely a foot race. In the ancient Greek races, contestants would come out in a minimum of clothing so they wouldn’t be slowed down, and they would stand in their running lanes. At the start of each lane were stones with grooves in them. The runner would place his foot against that groove and reach forward, straining with every fiber of his being, waiting for the beginning of the race. That’s the phrase Paul used here. He said, “I press on.” Why? “So that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” This is an interesting play on words. Paul was saying, “I want to lay hold of that for which I was laid hold.”
If you are a Christian, your salvation did not begin with you. You didn’t wake up one day and say, “You know what? I think I’ll lay hold of God today.” No, your salvation began with God. God took the initiative. Salvation is not us reaching up and grabbing hold of God. Salvation is God reaching down and grabbing hold of us. John wrote, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Paul never got over the fact that God reached down and laid hold of his life for one reason: that he might achieve his purpose of becoming like Jesus.
If you’re going to succeed in the Christian life and live above your circumstances, you need to start with a case of discontent with your present situation.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Holy Sweat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.